The Castle of Morra Family

A tormented love story in the Renaissance


The Castle of the Morra family in Valsinni which dominates the homonymous village of Lucania was probably built around the year 1000.
About the castle, the philosopher and historian Benedetto Croce wrote “..suggestive in architecture and impressive in the fullness of forms, classic in the escape of the battlements and loopholes..”. But what inspired the great man of literature in telling the story of this structure is due to the tormented affair of the Irpinian family who owned the manor during the Renaissance, the Morra family.

During the Italian wars of the second half of the 16th century, the French and the Spanish fought bitterly in the lands of the South (the so-called Hapsburg-Valois War, which caused the final expulsion of the French from southern Italy).
During this war, the family head of the Morra, Giovanni Michele, was in exile at the court of the King of France, Francis I.
The distance of his father threw in the solitude the sensitive Isabella, who remained isolated with her mother in the castle.
During this golden imprisonment, the young woman began to write poetry and fell in love with the lord of the castle of Bollita, Diego Sandoval de Castro, ally of the Spaniards. Isabella’s brothers, suspecting that the Spanish nobleman wanted to remove the possession from the Morra family, decided to act in the name of honor. First they murdered Isabella and her letter teacher, then ambushed Sandoval and killed him too.

The Spanish authority, determined to punish the fact of blood, opened an investigation into the death of Sandoval and also had Isabella’s songwriter as evidence in the trial that was to be held in Naples. Inside the poetic compositions of the young woman it was impossible to find any evidence that the brothers were planning the murders, or the news of the relationship between the noble poet and the Spanish nobleman. But as often happens, this story made Isabella Morra’s posthumous fortune, whose compositions were saved thanks to this process and which was then rediscovered by Benedetto Croce in 1929.

The Isabella Morra Literary Park

Today, with the establishment of the Literary Park dedicated to Isabella Morra, Valsinni proposes itself to offer unique and unrepeatable experiences. The Literary Park, in fact, synthesizes and combines literature, history, geography, ecology, art, theater, in a solution capable of actively involving visitors, who can thus become protagonists of a participatory discovery of the territory. The visit to the emblematic places of Isabella Morra’s poetry is associated with moments of literary and theatrical animation, where actors and guide-singers “tell” the places, interacting with the visitors.

How to visit it

The guided visit of the castle, also including the collection of historical clothes contained in it, is included into itinerary “Villages, traditions and flavors of Lucania“.